Anyone who maintains a blog has seen comments come in that look like they might not actually have anything to do with what you’re talking about. “Hey, you should try this thing I found on http://www.website.com”; ring a bell for anyone? I realize I haven’t talked about this in a while, but it’s on my mind today and I thought I’d share a few things on the matter.
For starters, anyone who actually wants their clients to do well should avoid spamming whenever possible – if a search engine tumbles to the fact that spam is being used, they’ll penalize the site that’s benefiting from it in any number of ways including removing them from a search listing entirely (the searching equivalent of capital punishment, for those who don’t think spam’s a serious matter).
It gets even trickier with the rise of social media in the online community. People are actually using Facebook and the online games connected with it than Google and all of its subsidiary sites. That must seem like a ripe field for black hat operators ready to do just about anything to promote their clients. Even for the rest of us it presents a very treacherous path to walk that can easily see you sliding off into the abyss. Learning what to look for in your own efforts is the first and possibly most important step in cleaning out the spam from your own content.
Sadly, there isn’t a whole lot you can do beyond that and just clearing your spam filter every so often so that it isn’t stacked up. I wonder, does a link that’s stored in a spam folder still count towards the ranking of the site to which it sends you? That would be one for the various search engines to answer, I suppose, but I still don’t want to have them just sitting there in my account.
The interesting thing, though, is that you can now get spam on your smart phone, so that there’s no waking moment when you aren’t at risk of a polluted Internet. As soon as you open it to your homepage, you’re going to find yourself faced with a lot of links that have nothing to do with what you’re after and some that may even offend your values. All in the name of helping some company do better online.
As search engine optimizers, it’s perfectly natural that we should want to help our clients be more visible online. It’s even right, because that’s what they’re paying us for. But it should never be done at the expense of the people we’re trying to get to go to our client’s with their business. If you’ll forgive me a Star Wars analogy, black hat techniques are “quicker, easier, more seductive” but in the end will leave your clients looking all rotten and gross, cackling “good, good” whenever someone launches another spam campaign on their behalf.
That doesn’t ultimately do anyone any good.